Ways to find good luck on New Year’s with your nearest and dearest — Photo courtesy of Eva-Katalin / Getty Images
We all have New Year’s traditions to celebrate the year to come. For some, it’s getting gussied up for a party and sharing a midnight kiss. For others, it’s as simple as watching the ball drop on your couch with your family.
No matter what you do, it’s almost always about wishing for better luck in the coming year. So how do you attract good luck for the new year? Turns out people all over the world have been asking themselves the same thing for centuries, and many have come up with their own New Year’s traditions to do just that.
Whether you’re extremely superstitious or just a little curious, here are some long standing rituals for good luck to do this New Year’s Eve and Day.
Eat 12 grapes at midnight
Eating 12 grapes can bring you luck on New Year’s — Photo courtesy of ahmad wahyu / iStock Via Getty Images
Across Latin America and Spain, as well as among Latinx diaspora, eating 12 grapes at midnight is a must. But don’t do it mindlessly — you should think about the coming year and the luck you’d like to have each month of the year (hence 12 grapes).
According to Atlas Obscura, the custom may be rooted in two stories: One is about how grape farmers in a Spanish town had a surplus of grapes to unload, and the other claims it might have been a way of copying the French tradition of enjoying champagne and grapes for the holiday.
Set your wishes on fire
Many people make wishes for the new year, but not all of them light them on fire. But for some in places like Russia and Armenia, this is exactly what you should be doing.
It’s pretty simple: grab some paper and write down your wish (or wishes) for the new year. Then, light it on fire. Once it’s turned to ash, some go so far as to pour the ashes in their beverage of choice and drink it (but you can always find a different way to discard them).
Have a bowl of black-eyed peas
Hoppin’ John is one of the best things to eat on New Year’s Day — Photo courtesy of ALLEKO / iStock Via Getty Images
What food brings you good luck for the New Year? As many Southerners can tell you, it’s black-eyed peas. There are numerous stories about why these legumes have become synonymous with good fortune, ranging from accounts of formerly enslaved people eating them on Emancipation Day as that’s all that was left to eat, to the fact that the peas swell when cooked (symbolizing expansion and wealth).
Either way, they’re best enjoyed on New Year’s Day, perhaps made into Hoppin’ John for extra luck. (PS: We’re not saying it’s a hangover cure, but that extra protein can’t hurt.)
Smash a fruitcake on the door
What to do with all that unwanted fruitcake you got over the holidays? Well, the Irish might tell you to smash it against your front door for luck!
Fruitcake (also known as Barmbrack in Ireland) is often baked on New Year’s Eve, and the tradition holds that after three bites of it are consumed, the “man of the house” is supposed to throw it at the front door to ward off hunger in the household. Seems a bit messy, so prepare accordingly.
Hit the beach and jump over seven waves
Jumping waves can bring you good fortune in the New Year — Photo courtesy of valentinrussanov / Getty Images
If you live near an ocean, do as the Brazilians do and hit the beach on New Year’s Eve.
As the local tradition goes, jumping over seven waves at midnight should yield some excellent luck for the new year. Just remember to also make seven wishes (one for each wave) as you jump. And for extra luck, toss some flowers into the water.
Walk around the block with your luggage
For many of us, luck means getting to travel as much as possible. And if you’re in Latin America, you might have observed one New Year’s tradition that invokes exactly that.
From Colombia to Mexico and elsewhere, you’ll find plenty of people carrying suitcases at midnight and walking (or even running) around the block with them in the hopes of traveling in the New Year. Some carry empty suitcases, while others pack specifically for the trip they want to invoke.
Open up your windows and doors
Open windows to let the new year in and the old one out — Photo courtesy of DragonImages / iStock Via Getty Images
Some say that being open to possibilities is a good way to attract good luck, but what if you take it a step further and literally open the windows and doors around you? That’s what many people do the world over from the Philippines to Ireland and beyond.
It makes sense when you think about it. Many want to let the “old” out — whether that be the old negative vibes or the old dust sitting in the house — and allow the “new” in (such as fresh air). Either way, unless it’s way too cold out, sounds like a simple ritual for some potential luck!
Throw a bucket of water outside
And while you’re at it, why not try this tradition on for size? Across many Latin American countries including Mexico and Cuba, it’s not uncommon to see someone fill up a bucket, pot, or other container with water and then throw it out their front door or window for some good luck.
Why? It’s just a more tangible version of getting rid of the old and accepting the new into your life.
Make some noise
Fireworks and making noise on New Year’s can cast away bad spirits — Photo courtesy of golero / iStock Via Getty Images
People love making lots of noise for the new year, whether it’s spinning around noisemakers or simply screaming out, “Happy New Year!” But why? Apparently a lot of this tradition is rooted in keeping away bad spirits that can ruin your luck in the coming year.
Fireworks, believed to have been invented in China and used during Chinese New Year to ward off evil, have become a noisy tradition all around the world on December 31.
“We bang pots and pans at midnight. That’s a tradition we carried over to Rhode Island from our childhood in New York,” adds travel writer Bob Curley.
And finally, choose the proper underwear
While some folks might be selective of their undies on New Year’s for more, ahem, adult reasons, many others are still picky due to traditions. Some cultures view the color of your underwear as meaningful for the new year.
Italians, for example, choose to wear red for good luck (while some still wear fully red outfits, others choose to only wear red underneath).
But if you’re in Venezuela, Colombia, or Bolivia, yellow is seen as the best color for underpants to improve your fortune in the coming year. Blue, green, pink, and white undies also have special meanings that are rooted in luck — just don’t wear black underwear if you want a chance at a good 2024!